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5 Things To Know: N.C. Election Results Hang in Balance as Votes Are Counted

...and four more stories from Nov. 1-7, 2020

Mecklenburg County Board of Elections officials inspect mail-in ballots by hand at BoE headquarters in Cherry on Friday. Most other counties are waiting until next week, meaning N.C. election results will be well behind other states. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

N.C. Election Results Hang in Balance as Votes Counted

Though it’s highly unlikely that former Vice President Joe Biden will catch up with President Donald Trump to win North Carolina in the race for president, nor is it likely that he’ll need to, other N.C. election results still hang in the balance as officials across the state won’t finish counting ballots here until late next week. 

The delay is due in part to a recent Supreme Court decision allowing North Carolina to extend the deadline for mail-in ballots to Nov. 12, meaning any ballots received by that day will be counted as long as they are postmarked on or before Nov. 3. There’s also a state law that prohibits officials from counting mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day as they come in, but mandates that each county hold a post-election meeting to count them.

Though Mecklenburg County held their meeting on Friday, most counties aren’t planning to hold their meetings until on or after the deadline next Thursday, meaning N.C. election results will lag behind most every other state. 

According to state data and other reports, North Carolina still has anywhere from 32,000 to 171,000 ballots to count, depending on how many mail-in ballots come in by Nov. 12. While it’s expected that President Trump will hold onto his lead (and still lose the election), and that Sen. Thom Tillis will also retain his lead to keep his seat in the U.S. Senate, other races could be affected by the late counts. 

N.C. election results
N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley is in a tight race, and still waiting for official N.C. election results. (Photo courtesy of Beasley campaign)

The two N.C. election results expected to be most affected by mail-in ballots are Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court and N.C. Attorney General. In the former, incumbent Democrat Cheri Beasley trails Republican challenger Paul Newby less than 3,500 votes, or .06 percentage points. North Carolina allows for a candidate to ask for a recount if the vote differential is under 10,000 or a .5% margin. On Wednesday, Beasley sent out an email stating that her team is preparing for a recount. Incumbent Attorney General Josh Stein leads his challenger, Jim O’Neill, by just 11,014 votes. 

President Trump could technically lose his North Carolina lead, currently at 76,479 votes, though that’s not expected to happen. He caught only around 150 votes total on Friday night. Tillis, who leads by more than 96,000 votes, was closer to 99,000 before Friday night, but is still expected to win when all is said and done. Other races with vote differentials just under 100,000 include the state auditor race, in which incumbent Democrat Beth Wood leads by more than 90,000 votes, and the race to replace Cherie Berry as labor commissioner, in which Republican Josh Dobson leads Democrat Jessica Holmes by nearly 92,000. 

COVID-19 Cluster Leads to Third Cancellation for UNC Charlotte Football

The UNC Charlotte football team had to postpone another game scheduled for today after seven athletes and team staff members tested positive for COVID-19 this week. That’s three out of eight games that the team has now had to cancel or postpone due to the pandemic, while numbers continue to increase throughout the county. 

According to the most recent data released by MCPH on Friday morning, there had been 35,628 positive cases of COVID-19 reported among Mecklenburg County residents and 404 deaths resulting from the coronavirus to that point. That’s an increase of 1,609 cases and 14 deaths since the same time last week. In-depth data for cases that occurred through Wednesday showed, on average, around 134 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 at any given day during the past week with an average 7% test-positivity rate — both stats trending up compared to the previous 14 days.

A look at hospitalizations in Mecklenburg County due to COVID-19. (Graph courtesy of MCPH)

Popular Businesses Close Due to Redevelopment, Pandemic

A slew of popular businesses announced they are closing this week, including Sammy’s Deli and Elizabeth Billiards in Plaza Midwood’s Central Square, as the new property owners plan to redevelop the site. The owners at Sammy’s, who opened the breakfast and lunch spot in 1997, told Charlotte Observer they don’t plan to relocate, while E.B.’s stated in a Facebook post on Sunday that they are looking for a new home. 

On Friday, Amelie’s French Bakery & Cafe announced it will permanently close its Uptown location tomorrow after nearly five years there. A release blamed the lack of workers in Uptown during the pandemic for the closure, and stated that all employees would be offered jobs at the bakery’s four other locations. 

“As is the case with many restaurants in Uptown, COVID-19 restrictions and businesses adopting a remote working model have greatly impacted the once-bustling Uptown location,” the release read. “As a result, with heavy hearts and careful deliberation, Amelie’s ownership has made the difficult decision to close this location.” 

Amelie's French Bakery
A former employee named Suminah Chapman speaks at a protest outside of Amelie’s French Bakery on July 11. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

Meanwhile, community members continued to put pressure on the popular bakery for a bevy of allegations that have plagued the business for years. Former employee Jen Woods made a post on Instagram on Friday claiming that recent promises from “equitable senior leadership” were just a cover for the continued “racism, misogyny, transphobia, ageism or nepotism” of owners Bill Lamb, Frank Reed and Brenda Ische. Multiple former employees held a press conference in July calling out Amelie’s for worker mistreatment, racial discrimination and false claims of community partnerships.

County to Cut Ties with Cardinal Innovations

The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously on Wednesday to allow County Manager Dena Diorio to begin the “disengagement process” that will be needed to sever ties with Cardinal Innovations, which oversees behavioral-health treatment in Mecklenburg County. The split has been a long time in the making, and became readily apparent in February when commissioners openly accused Cardinal of providing inadequate access to services and mishandling the emergency placement of neglected or abandoned children. 

The county has worked with Cardinal since 2014. The managed care company will present an improvement plan to the board next week, though Wednesday’s vote shows that commissioners don’t have much faith that it will be enough to save the relationship. 

“We believe beginning this process is still warranted because of a lack of confidence in Cardinal’s ability to make the necessary changes,” Assistant County Manager Anthony Trotman said Wednesday. The county will now begin looking for another partner to manage and care for people with developmental disabilities and those who struggle with mental health or substance abuse problems. 

Homicide Total Hits 102

A man was killed in University City this week was the 102nd homicide of the year in Charlotte, bringing us that much closer to last year’s total of 107, which was the highest number since 1993. Just before 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, police responded to a shooting call on McCullough Drive, halfway between North Tryon Street and East W.T. Harris Boulevard, and found 37-year-old Ronnie Abram dead of a gunshot wound. No arrests have yet been made in the case. 

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